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Toronto Public Health issues alert after increase in suspected opioid overdose deaths

A Toronto Public Health sign is seen at Dundas and Victoria St. in Toronto on Monday, August 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has issued an alert after an increase in overdose deaths in the city.

The alert, dated July 22, said preliminary data from Toronto paramedics shows that from July 17 to July 21, 10 suspected opioid overdose-related deaths were reported.

TPH said including those deaths, there have been a total of 21 suspected opioid overdose related deaths so far in July.

“There appears to be a potential increase in deaths from smoking opioids and stimulants,” the alert read.

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TPH said it appears a “range of drugs” were involved in this increase in fatalities.

“Fentanyl continues to show up in the local drug supply in a variety of colours with unpredictable potency and contamination,” the alert said.

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According to TPH, the city’s drug checking service has found higher amounts of fentanyl in fentanyl substances and potential evidence of crack cocaine being contaminated in fentanyl recently.

The alert said Toronto paramedics reported drug inhalation equipment — such as pipes — were present at the scene in a “number” of overdose deaths.

What’s more, the health unit said overdoses are occurring in “a variety” of neighbourhoods across Toronto.

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TPH said if you are planning to use drugs, not to do it alone.

The health unit also said to use a supervised consumption site, if possible, and to have a safety plan.

TPH said those choosing to use drugs should also have their supply checked, and should always keep naloxone close.

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